Thomas J. Pingel

Assistant Professor, Department of Geography
219C Davis Hall, Northern Illinois University       815.753.9208

My current research involves developing and testing visualizations in support of disaster relief and emergency response in urban areas. LIDAR technology is a key component in the visualization pipeline, since it produces a precise spatial record of the environment at a comparatively low cost. Part of my work focuses the development of algorithms to process and decompose the LIDAR stream. A complementary portion of my work focuses on the development and human subjects testing of novel visualizations of LIDAR data in support of archaeology, navigation, and scene analysis. I am interested in both 2D and immersive 3D representations of the environment derived from point-cloud data.

Another main branch of my work explores the concept of spatial cognition in both wayfinding and education contexts. I am particularly interested in accounting for preferences and strategies, and have looked at the concept of strategic disposition, the role of scale in search behavior, route asymmetry, and computational models of human movement over mountainous terrain. Ongoing work along these lines centers on increasing the predictive power of the slope-based human movement models that I have developed. New work is oriented toward evaluating the performance of geovisualizations in support of K-12 and university-level geography education.

My teaching centers on upper-level programming in support of Geographic Information Science. I typically teach Computer Methods & Modeling (GEOG 593) in the fall semester and either Geographic Information Systems (GEOG 459/559) or Web Mapping (GEOG 498/790) in the spring semester. At the undergraduate level, I enjoy getting back to my international politics roots as I teach World Regional Geography (GEOG 202) in both the fall and spring. Many of my classes feature a strong visualization and design theme. To see some of the products of those courses that are directed toward improving the community, see the NIU Student Mapping Project.

Keywords: GIS, lidar, web mapping, geovisualization, spatial cognition, human movement modeling, geography education, Python, Matlab, HTML5, JavaScript, X3D, Java